Sotto La Luna: Gardenia sent my nose and brain spinning. It still does. The new release (the first of a new series--- Sotto La Luna= under the moon) from Tauer Perfumes feels like at least two perfumes trapped in one bottle. Maybe Three perfumes, actually, and at times they're fighting with each other for dominance. I like some parts, find others more than a little difficult, appreciate the roller-coaster and the complexity, and feel disoriented when the ride is over.
My first impression was "wow!". A green garden in full bloom growing on the edge of a mossy forest. The oriental base of Sotto La Luna: Gardenia peeks right behind it and it's full of promise. But there's something spiky and chemical lurking just behind the gardenia and jasmine bushes. It could be a matter of skin chemistry, but just when I think that I get it, that I smell the gardenia on all its ripeness, it disappears under me again, becoming too abstract. The high-pitched green impression soars higher and higher, but it doesn't resemble any flora or fauna found in nature.
Gardenia perfumes at their best have some very interesting facets. Annick Goutal takes the drenched gardenia petals and water-soaked garden to an extreme in Un Matin d'Orage. Mandy Aftel combined created a stunning animalic-leather gardenia that's all natural in Cuir de Gardenia. If you're familiar with Jardenia by JAR or the discontinued Velvet Gardenia from Tom Ford Private Blend, you've smelled the overripe edge of the entire gardenia plant that borders on blue cheese and mushrooms covered in damp earth. Perfumer Andy Tauer took the 'shroomy route, which I appreciate very much because it really is part of the gardenia note and creates an interesting contrast to the fresh flowers and green leaves that surround them. But something here goes off on my skin, as the earth and mushrooms become dangerously close to a compost pile where a not-so-fresh banana peel is decomposing in the heat.
There's a certain charm in perfumes that play the revolt/attract game. I find that if you let Sotto La Luna: Gardenia go all the way and wear it outside on a really hot day, the sweetness takes over and makes a lot more sense. But I also see why some people will not be happy with this element. They'll probably have an easier time, and I admit that I do, too, with the full-on spicy oriental dry-down that appears later. This is where SLL:Gardenia becomes a whole new perfume. I smell wood soaked in gasoline and sugar-water, which again can be interesting or awful, depending on the way you feel about gas stations. I sort of like it.
Eventually everything slows down. SLL: Gardenia comes to a stop as a sweet woody comfort scent, more or less. Compared to the exhilarating ride that preceded it, this is sort of a let-down, but it allows me to catch my breath and remember that this is, indeed, a perfume. Kind of.
For a different perspective, read why Kafkaesque is decidedly unimpressed with this Tauer creation, while Persolaise believes that this is "one of Andy Tauer's most beguiling and most satisfying releases for quite some time".
Notes: fresh spices, roasted coffee beans, mushrooms, gardenia, jasmine, rosebuds, woods.
Tauer Perfumes- Sotto La Luna: Gardenia ($145, 50ml EDP) is available at Luckyscent. One sample for this review was supplied by Luckyscent with another purchase, the other ones was a press sample.
Images: pink mushrooms and a scan of a vintage Halloween postcard via juxtapost.com.